The Sower, Nebraska’s Image of the Prairie Spirit

Unlike most state capitol buildings decorated with a gracious female representation of liberty, victory or progress, the state capitol of Nebraska features a mighty male figure of a sоwer in the middle of his activity, spreading the seeds of life across the vast prairie. The whole building is impressive with how it creates a mythology out of its local reality. It does not import greek goddesses or columns but it erects its own people to the top of its legislator’s dome. The interior design of the capitol is all about life in the Great Plains, the work on the land and in different spheres of life, the plants and animals of the state, the severe weather and the heroic acts of people working together for their common survival. Symbols of the land, the sun, the corn seeds, the cycle of life, the legends of the native americans the women writers and the spirit of creative energy  are all painted or mosaic-ed on the floors, walls and ceilings. It is the main building of a city that does not pretend it is urban where the steam train is no more significant that the buffalo. It is a state where the women are often tougher than the men and the men are having a hart time hiding their romantic sensitivity towards nature and open space.The male beginning and the act of spreading the seeds is pretty self explanatory recreating life but also work which is so in unison with life in Nebraska. I was overwhelmed by a sudden feeling of respect to this demonstration of  pride that Nebraska showed me. Pride in who you are. With no need to imagine yourself different, no need to borrow your statues from a foreign mythology. Rural life can be a source of inspiration too.

Thinking then back to how little national pride Bulgarians have and how they constantly try to “civilize” themselves in the “misunderstood civilization” of imitating the strong of the day makes me a little sad. If the mid western folk can make it out of nothing why can’t we make it out of so much more… When i say nothing i mean nothing but land, which in the words of famous Nebraska woman writer is “not what countries are, but it is what countries are made of”. This act of making, so sacred to the American soul, and so deeply experienced by the pioneers is rightfully atop of the highest place on the plains. The making for which the sky is the limit.

The sky is by far the best portrait of Nebraska at any time of the year and day. If you go to the Denver Art Museum you will see that painting, i wish i had remembered the author, which says it all very well. It is so detailed on the ground but the ground is such a small part of the whole story. The winds that blow over there and blow people away across the country across the world and across time, those winds can sail you off to unexpected realizations as well as kill you. But think of what Willa Cather says: “I shall not die of a cold. I shall die of having lived.”

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